The Gadgets Page

December 3, 2007

Did AT&T Leak Apple’s Plan for a 3G iPhone?

Filed under: PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

iPhoneFor all the love and joy that people have been spreading on the iPhone, it has received some criticism because the Internet browsing uses the EDGE network instead of 3G. I’ve been happy with the speed of the Internet browsing (it is faster than my Treo on Sprint), but there are a lot of speed freaks wishing for a 3G iPhone.

Last week, Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T, stated that Apple is going to release a 3G iPhone next year. To a lot of people, this seemed like an incredibly stupid move on AT&T’s part. It’s right before Christmas. Everyone who hasn’t gotten an iPhone yet was wishing Santa would bring one on Christmas day. Now, they are all just holding tight until the 3G version comes out.

Robert Cringely has a theory about WHY Randall Stephenson made such a move:

It is no coincidence that Stephenson made his remarks in Silicon Valley, rather than in San Antonio or New York. He came to the turf of his “partner” and delivered a message that will hurt Apple as much as AT&T, a message that says AT&T doesn’t really need Apple despite the iPhone’s success.

What I believe is troubling the relationship between AT&T and Apple is the upcoming auction for 700-MHz wireless spectrum and AT&T’s discovery that — as I have predicted for weeks — Apple will be joining Google in bidding. AT&T thought its five-year “exclusive” iPhone agreement with Apple would have precluded such a bid, but that just shows how poorly Randall Stephenson understood Steve Jobs. Steve always hurts his friends to see how much they really love him, so AT&T probably should have expected this kind of corporate body blow.

The 700-MHz wireless spectrum that Cringely is talking about is a chunk of the airwaves that are going up for auction soon. This part of the spectrum used to be used for analog television (channels 52-69 on UHF). They will no longer be used because of the FCC ruling that forced all the television stations to start broadcasting in the digital spectrum. Companies are jumping all over themselves to get this piece of the crowded airspace.

Cringely has no inside information about Apple, AT&T or the bidding. None of us know whether Apple is going to join the bidding war for a piece of the wireless phone waves. Somehow, I doubt AT&T is trying to send Apple a “message,” especially since Steve Jobs himself announced a 3G phone for 2008 back in September:

I think there has been too much analyzing and watching every word of every executive in the gadget industry. Sorry, AT&T didn’t “leak” a 3G phone right before Christmas to send Apple a message. They’re just spouting the party line put down by Steve Jobs two months earlier.

Via: Wireless: Cringely’s AT&T-iPhone theory — the 100-word version

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